Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cheap Beer No. 1: Northern Reserve Golden Lager

You can’t drink good beer all the time. Well, OK, maybe you can, but why would you want to? Why deny yourself the easygoing pleasure that can be had in a can of something cold and simple? If being a good-beer aficionado means swearing off cheap thrills, then forget it. I want no part of any inhibiting snobbery that turns up its nose to the gutbucket virtues of beer that sets its sights low. As beer drinkers we shouldn't be letting our good taste stand in the way of a good time.

With this in mind, let's bring on the cheap beer. There's plenty of it to be had in Oshkosh and during the warm months we're going to explore some of these brews to see if we can find a few that are as easy on the palate as they are on the wallet. Let's Go!

We're starting with Northern Reserve Golden Lager from the Northern Brewing Company. These guys say they're from Minnesota, but like so many of the cheap beers that find their way to Oshkosh this is actually brewed at the old Heileman brewery, now known as the City Brewery, in La Crosse. I picked up a case for $9.99 at the North Side Pick 'n Save and after choking down a couple cans, tried to give away the rest. I couldn't find any takers. So, of course, I wound up drinking more of it. About six cans in I finally figured out what makes this repulsive. It's the smell. Poured into a glass the beer smells exactly like the sludge they use to "butter" your popcorn at the movies. The easy way around that deficit is to drink it straight from the can. And what cans they are! The aluminum they're using to house this beer must be of an especially low grade. Every can in the case I bought is as crinkled and rumpled as an old lunch bag. OK, back to the beer. Pour it in and the flavor immediately breaks down into a flinty, metallic wash. They've done an exceptional job of hiding every nuance of hops while retaining just the slightest hint of malt and corn. The beer finishes with lingering notes of alka-seltzer, vomit and despair. Pair it with hay-fever or a sinus infection to maximize quaffability.

Final verdict: Would I buy this again? Hells no.


  1. HAHAHA. Thanks for a good LOL this am. I will hit up the C&C as we head to the northwoods tomorrow though! Thanks for the heads up.

  2. I was thinking of purchasing this the other day. Thanks for steering me clear. My stomache and my head thanks you.

  3. HA! Cheap beer is it's own punishment.... but it does sound like it would be OK for boiling brats or making bread!

  4. Do you even know what a good beer is? This is by far the best cheap beer on the market in Minnesota and Wisconsin. I find it humorous that anyone would even comment on the quality of beer that is $11.99 a case but that shows you don't know what you are talking about. The honey brown and golden lager
    were an incredible find after moving from brew town Milwaukee to Minneapolis and not being able to afford my favorite Breweries, Sprecher (Milwaukee, WI), Capital (Madison, WI), Sierra Nevada, Goose Island, Lakefront (Milwaukee, WI). The fact that you would even attempt to make a honey brown for the poor people shows a true love for making beer. Finding a non-pilsner beer in the piss-isle I was intrigued and had to try. The flavor and body of both the brown and golden are very high quality. After four years of drinking pretty much Northern cheap beer, today I heard they are discontinuing the brand because of government regulations and this is how I came across this blog. I hope somebody finds a way to continue making this product because I am truly grateful to come across this beer and appreciate the beer maker for providing an exceptional product for an unbelievable price.

    Cheers from a quality beer lover.